Free, Fabulous Friday: It's Festivals Time!

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Festival Season has begun. This weekend alone there's over a dozen. We've picked out the really good ones for (mostly) free, fabulous fun this weekend. If it rains, take your umbrella and boots and be glad everyone else stayed home.

Not exactly a festival, but also of note to all those with little (or big) comic book lovers, Saturday, May 3rd is Free Comic Book Day. That's not a joke. Walk into any participating comic book store and they will give you free comic books. Type in your zip code to find participating comic book stores. There are several in NYC including Forbidden Planet, St Marks Comics, and Rocketship in Brooklyn.

Eight festivals actually worth going to:

Drums Along the Hudson: A Native American Festival and Shad Fest
Saturday, May 3, 11AM- 6PM
Inwood Hill Park
218th Street, Manhattan (A or 1 trains)
FREE

Drums Along the Hudson includes native drumming from around the world, intertribal social dances like the Round Dance, the Iroquois Smoke Dance, and the Jingle Dance. Native food, crafts, and art will be for sale. Shad Fest celebrates the annual return of spawning shad to the Hudson River. Kids will enjoy making corn husk dolls, storytelling, and performances by different dance troupes throughout the day, including the Pow Wow dance at 2 PM.
Find Map and Directions Here

Hippo Playground Spring Fair
Sunday, May 04, 10:00 AM??“04:00 PM
Riverside Park at 91st St (1/2//3 trains)
FREE, but expect to spend money for activities

Hippo Playground ranks amongst NYC parents' favorite playgrounds. This weekend the playground will host a fair to help raise essential funds for Hippo Playground maintenance and programs. Activities for children will include a jumping castle, pony rides, petting zoo, a maze, face painting and more.

Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival)
May 3-4, 10AM-6PM
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
FREE with Admission

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden Cherry Blossom Festival is on our top 100 list of things to do with your kids in NYC. It's an incredible day of Japanese Culture, beauty, amazing performances, workshops and tons of free stuff for kids. Way too much to even try to describe here. Just look at the website for a full list of programs. The event is all weekend and you can expect it to be crowded. The events are rain or shine and, actually, rainy weather may keep enough people home to make it more fun for those who are willing to brave it. If you decide not to go because of the rain or crowds, you can check out this mesmerizing time-lapse Cherry Blossom Watch video.

Tribeca Film Festival Family Festival Street Fair
Saturday, May 3, 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Greenwich Street between Hubert and Duane Streets
FREE

Despite all this festival talk, I'm not a big fan of many festivals. I hate crowds, mostly, and am often disappointed by the same old face painting, sock vendors and sausage carts you find at most street fairs. One street fair that I really do enjoy is the Tribeca Film Festival Family Festival. Why? Because you can do most of it before noon when it's not too crowded and in the past it's always had some really fun stuff for kids to do that you don't find at other fairs. In the past they've had baby African animals, celebrity storytellers, and other fun stuff. To see what's in store this year you can download a colorful map and schedule on the film festival website. My advice, get there early, do as much as you can, and leave when it gets crowded.

Country in the City
May 4, Sunday, 10am-4pm
Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
4881 Broadway at 204th Street (A/1/9 trains)
FREE

We used to drive out to the country on weekends to tour old houses, walk the gardens and enjoy pretending we lived in the country for a day. But you can do that right in Manhattan at the Dyckman Farmhouse Musuem. The Country in the City Festival is a free Open House at Dyckman Farmhouse Museum. Trees and flowers will be blooming, creating a lovely oasis in the city. A special feature of the day in the ???country??? will be the work of the Empire Quilters, Inc. who reproduced a historic quilt in the Dyckman collection. Sit on the front porch, watch the quilters quilt , walk the grounds...at 1:30 there will be a special story time where kids can learn how quilts tell their own stories and make their own quilt squares. The Dyckman farmhouse Museum is in Inwood and can be reached by subway. Get directions here.

NYC Wildflower Week
May 3-10
Various Locations
FREE

Did you know that NYC has more natural area than any other city in North America? NYC Wildflower Week celebrates everything green and wild in the Big Apple with free activities, walks and talks. This Saturday and Sunday head to Union Square for gardening demonstrations, see the Native Plant Display Garden and take home a Wildflower Week Tote and some native seeds to plant at home. Next Saturday, May 10th, there will be fun children's activities in every borough to help kids learn and appreciate native plants. Check out NYCWildflowerWeek.org for the full schedule of events.

Irish Dance Festival
Sunday, May 4, 1-8PM
Riverside Park South, Pier 1 at W 70th St. (1/2/3 or C trains)
FREE

Enjoy a day of free Irish dance performances and workshops. Everyone is invited to dance. There will be dance workshops just for kids, plus face painting and kids craft tables from 1PM-4PM.

Bike Month NYC
Various Locations
All Month Long
FREE

Check out the events going on all month to encourage New yorkers to bike more for their health and the environment, including Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike events, fix your own bike workshops, Mommy and Me rides and more. See the whole calendar of events on bikemonthNYC.org. Want to bike? Take a look at one of my favorite places to bike with kids in NYC.